Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: Saburo on January 18, 2021, 11:22:14 am

 
Title: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: Saburo on January 18, 2021, 11:22:14 am
Trusting that there is no such thing as a stupid question:

I'm planning a Trans America tour in the late Spring.  My question is this...

I know that many people box their bike and ship it to their starting point.  But how have you gotten your gear there?  Did you ship your panniers, sleeping bag, etc. with your bike?  Separately?  Or did you carry your bags with you on the plane?  Or ?  It seems like it would be hard to get four panniers, and all your gear there on the plane but maybe there is a great way to do this....  Thanks.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: John Nettles on January 18, 2021, 11:58:52 am
I just put it on the plane.  My Handlebar bag is my "personal item".  One rear pannier is a carry-on (if free, otherwise it is my 2nd checked bag).  The other rear pannier is my 1st check bag.  I tie the front panniers (if I am using) together so they are one unit and it is  my 2nd (or 3rd) checked bag.  The rack pack goes in the bike box.  I try to fly Southwest due to the baggage allowance IF I am flying.  You can always ship just one bag if needed as the cost for a 3rd bag can be quite high.

You could ship too.  Greyhound is usually relatively inexpensive to ship stuff but typically only ships station to station.  If using UPS or Fedex, ship to a hotel you will stay in at your arrival city. 

Depending on where you are and your time constraints, I have found that renting a minivan or smaller SUV is actually not that bad.  For instance, I am doing a tour this spring come hell, high water, or virus, from Atlanta to Charleston.  The cost to fly with bags (as described below is $140 + $75 for the bike.  Plus I have to get from the airport back to the actual start in Smyrna (where the last tour ended) say $5 in mass transit fees plus a hassle dealing with the city bus. So say $220 total. Plus I have to box the bike and reassemble it and hope the airline didn't break anything. I would arrive in ATL around 11am but realistically by the time I got to the hotel in Smyrna after reassembling my bike at the airport, I am look at around 3:00pm. Not bad. Would probably not start riding until the next morning around 9am.  If you have multiple travelers, there would be no cost savings.

For comparison, I can rent an SUV for $136 directly to Smyrna (takes about 12 hours of driving so one long day).  Figure $75 gas and tolls.  Total is $211.  I would probably arrive around 8am at the car rental drop off location and be on the road at 9am. If you have multiple travelers, you can save a lot since you can split a $153 minivan three ways (about 3 bikes, 3 people, and gear is max unless you disassemble the bike.  So if going as a couple, the cost would increase to ~$220 or $110 per person.

For me, I will drive instead of fly since I can just put the bike fully assembled in the back of the SUV, put the bags in and go.  Reverse to start riding.  For me, the extra time savings on flying is just used up by boxing the bike and reassembling the bike. 

If you have access to Amtrak with roll-on bike service, that can be another easy way but Amtrak can be a bit pricey at times.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: HikeBikeCook on January 18, 2021, 01:51:48 pm
We also have used Enterprise One way (they pick you up) to get back to our car at the starting point. We rented a pickup truck pretty cheaply. Also planning on doing that to get from Boston to DC for the start of our cross country. My daughter went to Georgetown and that was my move-in/move-out plan. Fly Jetblue one way and mini van back. Saved 7 hours of driving and an over night.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: Nyimbo on January 18, 2021, 02:01:31 pm
when I have taken Amtrak or plane I like to put everything in a big duffle and check it. Then  carry my helmet and handle bar bag is my carry-on. Twice I have purchased a $20 duffel at Walmart but others have suggested looking for a bag at the thrift shop etc.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: John Nelson on January 18, 2021, 02:34:32 pm
It greatly depends on the situation. Almost every time I've done it, I've done it differently. I've done everything on this list.

Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: jamawani on January 18, 2021, 09:46:39 pm
I prefer starting my tours in fabulous places - -
Not from an airport baggage carousel or my garage.
Same goes for end point.

Ease of getting everything there and exactly where you want it:
1. Your car/truck. (Just toss everything in the back and go)
2. One-way rental. (Enterprise >> OR >> UHaul cargo van)
3. Amtrak. (Especially routes with roll-on service)
4. Airlines. (More and more expensive every year)
93,291. Greyhound. (Also known as "Riding the dog")

For coast to coast trips, I have left my truck with a friend,
shipped most of my stuff home when done, and flown back to pick up the truck.
Another time I arranged to leave my car with a small-town mechanic.
Had some work done over the summer and it purred like a kitten when I got back.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on January 18, 2021, 11:49:43 pm

93,291. Greyhound. (Also known as "Riding the dog")


Why's that?
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: HikeBikeCook on January 19, 2021, 07:13:42 am
TCS - From your tag line referring to touring in North Cornwall I assume you are in the UK. Greyhound, unless you were joking, is a bus line that covers most of the US.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: jamawani on January 19, 2021, 07:25:11 am
Why's that?

1. Woman overdoses in back of bus.
2. Aisle floor like flypaper from beverage spills.
3. Mentally ill person talking loudly to nobody and everybody.
4. Homeland Security empties bus on side of highway in the middle of the night.
5. Terrified young Chinese couple with toddler sitting on front row.
6. Filthy bus stations in major cities.
7. Baggage charges almost as bad as airlines.
8. Long delay when driver quits mid-route.
9. And more.

(Because I have toured for 33 years, I've done way too much Greyhound.)
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on January 19, 2021, 07:53:17 am
I flew with my bike and my stuff my first tour (Trans America).  The bike was in a box and the gear was in another.  They made me sign a waiver saying they were only responsible for loss and not damage because stuff was in cardboard instead of  luggage.  Since then I have used other methods including cheap duffle bags and thrift store luggage.  I like picking up a used bag for $7-8 and disposing of it at the airport.

That all works well for me since I like to ride out of the airport.  For folks who don't, shipping to a bike shop, warmshowers host, or other place can be a good option.  Using a shipper like shipbikes.com or bikeflights.com can be pretty reasonable.   Bike shops will typically receive and assemble your bike for a fee.

I pack really light these days with ultralight camping gear so I can get bike and gear into one soft case and keep it all under 50#.  If I go over a little it can go in a little personal item sized backpack.  I have not needed a a second checked bag or even a carry on bag on recent trips.

I like to get to the start by flying with the bike, but at the end of the tour I tend to be happy to pay a bike shop to pack it up and ship it home for me.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: John Nettles on January 19, 2021, 08:50:11 am
I have to admit that Greyhound is not that great and will avoid them if possible but I have ridden Jefferson Bus Lines (which I think goes to Jama's town) about 5 times and never had an issue. 

Always clean, on time, the driver's don't put up with crap from unruly passengers, etc.  My only complaint is that I once wanted to use them but there was no way I could get a bike box (or cardboard available to make one) since it was a "roadside stop" for the bike and they would not allow me to place the unboxed bike on the bus.  Since I was calling to see if they would, maybe they just rejected me based on policy and the driver might not have when I was just standing there.  Since I couldn't guarantee a spot for the bike, I chose a different destination.

Maybe I was just lucky or Jama was unlucky.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: HikeBikeCook on January 19, 2021, 05:10:36 pm
I know in the Northeast there is Bolt and Megabus which are super clean, super discount options my kids used when in college. Not sure if they would take a bike on board.

Bolt has currently suspend service due to COVID https://www.boltbus.com/ (https://www.boltbus.com/)

https://us.megabus.com/ (https://us.megabus.com/)
Mega Bus Policy  :-\

Can I take my bicycles, skis, snowboards, golf clubs, or musical instruments on board the bus?
Unfortunately megabus buses are unable to carry these items unless they are in a case that does not exceed the dimensions stated in the luggage policy.

For guidance, this case must not exceed 62 inches when adding the total exterior dimensions of the piece (length + width + height) and should not weigh more than 50 pounds.

Megabus cannot store these items if they are out of a case due to the potential for damage to other customers' luggage.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on January 21, 2021, 08:00:05 pm
TCS - From your tag line referring to touring in North Cornwall I assume you are in the UK.

The tag line is a running gag from the classic Monty Python episode-long sketch 'The Cycling Tour'.

PS - I'm not in the UK but Greyhound is.  Greyhound is owned by the UK First Group company.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on January 21, 2021, 08:00:55 pm
9. And more.

Fair enough.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on January 21, 2021, 08:18:39 pm
Quote
...Jefferson Bus...Bolt...Megabus...

A bit back, France and Germany did away with their laws that for all intents and purposes had prevented long-distance bus travel.

An outfit called Flixbus got started in Germany.  Yeah, German, so you can bet everything was clean, nobody misbehaved and they ran on time.

They discovered folks wanted to travel with their bikes.  They discovered they could make money making it easy for folks to travel with their bikes.

http://docplayer.net/104534988-Flixbus-a-smart-and-green-cycling-experience-for-everyone-martin-bethge-senior-network-planning-september-2018-eurovelo-and-cycle-tourism.html

Flixbus came to the USA, starting operations in California and Texas - with bike racks on their American buses!

COVID hit.    :o  :-\   :(

Moving into the future I'd be pleased and tickled for Adventure Cycling to partner with Flixbus & co-promote, similar to the deal with Amtrak. 


Anyway, as soon as I can get vaccinated I'm planning on packing the folder and riding Vonlane bus (ne plus ultra bus) down to Austin for a little urban touring.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: misterflask on January 23, 2021, 10:07:21 am
I have allowed myself the luxury of shipping bikes to a bike shop near the trip origin and paying them to put the bike together.  I think it's usually cost $40-$60.  This has the advantage of beginning your trip knowing that your bike is tweaked and ready to ride (and not bent or shipped to another state) and also that the bike shop will gladly accept a box of your stuff and hold it for you.  Shipping bags cross-country wasn't cheap and I'm not sure that it might not be cheaper paying airline extra bag fees.  But it was low stress flying with just a handlebar bag carryon.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikePacker on January 23, 2021, 10:39:09 am
My question is this...
But how have you gotten your gear there? 
I have done it one of any of the following 3 ways,
subject to that which is most practical for each tour route end to end,
and getting back home,
ranked in order of preference of what has worked best for me:
1. One way rental car where by everything is with me.
2. If there is an REI at one end of tour &/or other .... I give it all to REI ....they will even re-assemble the bike.  I ship me by plane.
3. Bike shipped bike shop to bike shop and gear shipped USP to same bike shop. I ship me by plane.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on January 23, 2021, 11:04:56 am
2. If there is an REI at one end of tour &/or other .... I give it all to REI ....they will even re-assemble the bike.  I ship me by plane.
When was the last time you did that? I was told that REI shipped bikes with their own store to store shipping.  It was supposed to be cheap and convenient.  I tried that some years ago and they told me they no longer shipped bikes with their shipping system.  They said they had just discontinued that service.  The would box a bike and let me pay UPS or FedEx to ship it.  They would also receive it and assemble one for a fee.

They quoted me higher prices than bike shops typically charge me.  I think that was in Denver in 2012.   The price was high enough that I asked if they could give me a used box so I could just pack and ship it home myself.  The guy told me he was supposed to charge for the box.  The price was kind of steep so I said never mind.  He said meet him at the loading dock and don't tell his boss and he would give me a box.

I went to a UPS store, always a bad move, and they screwed me with a super high rate.  It was still less than REI was going to cost though.

My typical strategy to get a bike home is to let a bike ship pack and ship it and it is usually pretty reasonable (less than just the shipping if I go to a UPS store).  The bike shops seem to get much better shipping rates that you will get quoted at a UPS store.

BTW, unrelated, but I have found that printing USPS shipping labels for packages online from the USPS website is a good bit cheaper than going to the post office.  I find that with my little business I get an even better rate shipping my product if I buy the labels via paypal.  It is sometimes enough to saving to cover the fees they charged for an ~$200 sale.  It only works for orders sold via paypal though.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: driftlessregion on January 28, 2021, 01:24:21 pm
If there is a group of us, i.e., not me alone, one or two cars are driven by the retired guys with all the bikes and gear while the working folks fly a few days later. This assumes a loop tour of course.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: CannonBill on January 31, 2021, 12:32:25 pm
this is an option: pack your bike in a hard case, fly to your destination. Besides the bike, You can fit a lot of other items in your bike case as well. Bring a separate suitcase for remaining gear. Spend the first night in an airport hotel because they can shuttle you and your stuff. Call ahead to your final destination hotel. Also a airport shuttle hotel. Talk to the manager and tell them what you’re doing and ask if they’ll hold your bike case for you until you arrive. I usually reserve two nights so I can spend the 2nd day packing up. Put the suitcase inside the bike case, call UPS and have them pick up up and deliver the case to your destination hotel. If you’re doing a round trip, ask the hotel manager to store the case. I always offer to pay for storage, but they’ve always refused. I’ve never been turned down doing this. Of course, you need to use a moderate to upscale hotel chain. No fleabags. Kind of expensive, but to me, ease of setup and protecting my bike from damage during transit is paramount...
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on February 02, 2021, 10:15:47 am
When flying, I ship the bike with racks, stove and empty fuel bottle inside. Two panniers and much of my gear goes in a duffel bag which I check. One pannier is my allowed carry-on and another is small enough to qualify as a personal item. What's not in the duffel bag (e.g., helmet, water bottles, cycling shoes, Kindle, etc.) goes in those two panniers. If your tour is one-way, you can mail the bag home, buy a used one and toss it or even give it away.

When taking the train, the tent stays on the rear rack. I consolidate the panniers into a sleeping bag storage sack to carry them all on at once. The sack is light to ride home with without adding noticeable weight.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: dfege on February 04, 2021, 01:15:31 pm
Saburo,
This is not a stupid question.  As you can see from the responses, cyclists have many different ways to get to the start of their trip.  I usually try to balance cost, possible damage to the bicycle, and convenience.  I have done at least 20 trips where I needed to get my bike to the start.  Here are my assessment of the options.

Having your bike packed by your LBS and shipped to an LBS at the start of the trip is probably the safest for your bicycle.  I usually don't do this, especially if I am flying because I don't want to take the extra time at the beginning of the trip to shlep to the LBS with my gear to pick up my bike.  This usually costs me an extra day since I arrive late in the day. 

A hardshell bike case is a great option, but you need to make some arrangements as to what to do with it while you're cycling, which can be a little problematical if you are not ending your trip where you began.

If  the start of my tour is "near" to home, a long one-day drive, I prefer to drive.  If my tour does not return me to my staring point, I will rent a car.  I have found that I can fit my bicycle in the back seat of an intermediate size car by removing the rear wheel.   f the tour ends where I began, I ask the motel owner or the camp ground if I can leave my car with them for a few weeks if 'm driving my own car.

If I am flying, I take my bike in an "airline" bicycle box.  This is a box that you can buy from most airlines at the airport (although always check ahead of time) and it usually costs about $25.  It is a one time use box.  It is much bigger than a typical bicycle box, but packing is simpler.  You take off your pedals and turn the handle bars.  Since the boxes are big when packed, I usually do this at the airport because i can't fit them in my car or even a van. To save me the time of standing in an airport line simply to purchase the box on the day of the trip, I will purchase ahead of time, and bring it with me to the airport.  Make sure you have tried to loosen the pedals before you go.  When you turn the handlebars you may need to release break or derailleur cables to turn the handle bars.  I put a pannier bag lightly stuffed with soft things like clothes n the derailleur side of the rear rack to help cushion it. I also try to put a sleeping bag in the box to reduce luggage on the plane.  Remember to take scissors and tape with you to cut the tape and secure the box.  Also, note that you can't take the scissors on the plane with you.  At the other end I re-assemble by bicycle at the airport.  I have put together bicycles at many major airports of the world:  Gatwick, DeGaulle, Hamburg, Amsterdam, SFO, Missoula, Portland, Green Bay.  Portland's airport actually has a special room with a bike rack and tools to reassemble your bike.  Make sure you know how you are leaving the airport.  Some are easy:  Portland and Washington Reagan both have a bike path right out of the airport.  Others you will need to find surface routes.  Others, like O'hare, you will need to get on the local train/subway or hire a service.

Depending, Amtrak is an option.  Always check with Amtrak ahead of time.  In some cases, you can walk your bike in the luggage car.  The Pacific Surfliner allows you bring the bike on the train, but you have to make a reservation for your bike, which is free.

As a side note, I have had lubricants and degreasers confiscated from my luggage and you can't take them on board, so I now plan to purchase at the beginning of the bike trip.  Good luck on your trip.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on February 04, 2021, 04:03:33 pm
Depending, Amtrak is an option.  Always check with Amtrak ahead of time.  In some cases, you can walk your bike in the luggage car.  The Pacific Surfliner allows you bring the bike on the train, but you have to make a reservation for your bike, which is free.
Amtrak can be a good option or a terrible one depending on when and where.  It can be really expensive and quite slow.  Going coast to coast when I checked it out I was surprised with both how long it took and with how expensive it was.  In other cases it was a nice option.  Sometimes for some trips I was able to rent a car one way and get there both faster and cheaper.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: wurzincg on February 04, 2021, 08:52:01 pm
I've used a company called Ship Bikes to arrange shipping with Fed X ground five times and my bike has arrived on time and free of damage each time. I have the bike shipped to a hotel where I've reserved a room after making sure the hotel staff agrees to accept delivery and store the bike box for a few days.
I can fit my tent, my stove and any other stuff that can't go on an airplane in the box with the bike and still stay below the 60 lb. maximum weight.  I strap my loaded panniers together and they become checked baggage on the flight.  I hope this helps.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on February 04, 2021, 09:21:24 pm
If you have the time, Amtrak can be quite relaxing. I twice went from Philly to Seattle to start tours. Enjoyed both trips. Got to run around Chicago both times between trains. The scenery through the Wisconsin Dells, the border of Glacier and the Cascade range was spectacular.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on February 05, 2021, 02:05:21 pm
I've used a company called Ship Bikes to arrange shipping with Fed X ground five times and my bike has arrived on time and free of damage each time. I have the bike shipped to a hotel where I've reserved a room after making sure the hotel staff agrees to accept delivery and store the bike box for a few days.
I can fit my tent, my stove and any other stuff that can't go on an airplane in the box with the bike and still stay below the 60 lb. maximum weight.  I strap my loaded panniers together and they become checked baggage on the flight.  I hope this helps.

Close that I have done. I have started several loops tours from Missoula. Shipped the bike to REI using Bikeflights but will try ShipBikes next time because Bikeflights switched to using UPS and the service declined and rates went up. The Missoula KOA in conveniently locatd about 3 miles from the airport. REI is conveniently located a few minutes' walk from the KOA. My bike is assembled, tuned and ready for me to pick up when I arrive, and they hold my bike box and duffel bag for me. I can also pick up last minute things like fuel for the stove. At the end of the tour I drop off the bike, give them the shipping labels and go have a beer.

Did something similar for a Black Hills tour.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on February 05, 2021, 08:11:11 pm
Amtrak can be a good option or a terrible one depending on when and where...

And there is Amtrak's whole 'only stations that offer checked baggage service' thing.

Maybe Brompton Mafia has the right idea:

https://www.facebook.com/BromptonMafia/posts/651591201599714
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on February 06, 2021, 05:49:07 am
There are some exceptions. The Vermonter and Capitol Limited services allow you to get off and on at any station. I believe some other routes with roll-on service allow bikes off and on where checked baggage service is not offered. The Down Easter being one that I know of off the top of my head.

It’s all explained here:

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on February 06, 2021, 08:02:54 am
There are some exceptions. The Vermonter and Capitol Limited services allow you to get off and on at any station. I believe some other routes with roll-on service allow bikes off and on where checked baggage service is not offered. The Down Easter being one that I know of off the top of my head.

It’s all explained here:

https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard
I thought that bikes as checked baggage were never allowed on or off unless the station had baggage service and didn't think whether a station had baggage service had anything to do with roll on roll off.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: canalligators on February 06, 2021, 09:24:02 pm
The days of checked-baggage-stations-only are over.  They have been adding bike services over the years, which can be a trick on equipment not designed to carry bikes.  The latest innovation is a luggage rack on one end of certain cars that can be converted to a bike rack, you remove your front wheel and hang the bike by its rear wheel.

Do read the fine print and call Amtrak to confirm.  A reservation for your bike is usually required.  Different trains have different bike service.

True folding bikes are allowed on any Amtrak train, any station.  But it has to be a real folding bike, with folded size less than specified dimensions (which are generous).  A 26" wheel folder probably won't fit.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on February 07, 2021, 07:42:26 am
The days of checked-baggage-stations-only are over.
Yes but for bikes as checked baggage that has not changed.  Right?

Quote
They have been adding bike services over the years, which can be a trick on equipment not designed to carry bikes.  The latest innovation is a luggage rack on one end of certain cars that can be converted to a bike rack, you remove your front wheel and hang the bike by its rear wheel.
I have not yet seen that on Amtrak, but have seen a rack like that on a light rail system somewhere.  It worked pretty well.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on February 08, 2021, 12:20:11 pm
The days of checked-baggage-stations-only are over.
Yes but for bikes as checked baggage that has not changed.  Right?

Quote
They have been adding bike services over the years, which can be a trick on equipment not designed to carry bikes.  The latest innovation is a luggage rack on one end of certain cars that can be converted to a bike rack, you remove your front wheel and hang the bike by its rear wheel.
I have not yet seen that on Amtrak, but have seen a rack like that on a light rail system somewhere.  It worked pretty well.

Correct. You can only check boxed bikes between stations with checked baggage service. From the link I posted above:

"Bicycles may be checked on Amtrak between all cities where checked baggage is offered. Not all trains or locations are equipped to handle checked baggage. Find your station(s) to see if this service is available."

As for trainside checked bike service (i.e., unboxed bikes) where it is offered, the answer is not clear from the website:

"Standard full-size bicycles may be transported in bicycle racks located in the baggage car. This service is only available at select stations. Advance reservations are required."

You basically need to go through a two step process:

1. Determine which, if any type of bike service the train you are looking at offers.

2. Determine which stations you can travel between with your bike.

The roll-on racks have been around a while, at least on the Vermonter and on the Ethan Allen before they were done away with. I took the former to the start of a tour five or six year ago. The important upgrade has been the relatively new baggage cars that replaced equipment from as far back as the 1950s. They have allowed the expansion of trainside checked service. That service was recently added to the Pennsylvania. I used it back in September to get to Pittsburgh to start a tour home to Philly. Worked perfectly. Prior to that, there was not even checked baggage service so it was not possible to take that route with a full-size bike. Gone is my need to rent a car and pay the very high toll on the PA Turnpike, which is currently $31.40 if you bring your own E-Z Pass transponder.  It's a whopping $64.10 if you don't.

Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on February 08, 2021, 09:22:02 pm
True folding bikes are allowed on any Amtrak train, any station.  But it has to be a real folding bike, with folded size less than specified dimensions (which are generous).  A 26" wheel folder probably won't fit.

Changebike, Dahon, Montague and Tern 'big wheel' folding bikes can all pack up under the Amtrak folded bike size limit.

A 'rinko' bike does not meet the letter of Amtrak's folded bike guidelines.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: Saburo on February 11, 2021, 02:29:09 pm
Thanks to all who have responded.  I've been busy at work and haven't had time to check on replies.

I knew about shipping the bike to a shop at my start.  That part seemed straight forward.  The harder issue was how to get panniers and gear to the start.   Panniers are a bit of a pain (sometimes literally) to carry around in an airport.  The idea of getting a used duffle bag to bring on the plane was great.  Your idea of putting a sleeping bag in with the bike is interesting too.

I don't have the option to drive or take a train to my start so air travel is my only option.  All of your suggestions have given me great insights into how to get there with my stuff.

Peace

Saburo,
This is not a stupid question.  As you can see from the responses, cyclists have many different ways to get to the start of their trip.  I usually try to balance cost, possible damage to the bicycle, and convenience.  I have done at least 20 trips where I needed to get my bike to the start.  Here are my assessment of the options.

Having your bike packed by your LBS and shipped to an LBS at the start of the trip is probably the safest for your bicycle.  I usually don't do this, especially if I am flying because I don't want to take the extra time at the beginning of the trip to shlep to the LBS with my gear to pick up my bike.  This usually costs me an extra day since I arrive late in the day. 

A hardshell bike case is a great option, but you need to make some arrangements as to what to do with it while you're cycling, which can be a little problematical if you are not ending your trip where you began.

If  the start of my tour is "near" to home, a long one-day drive, I prefer to drive.  If my tour does not return me to my staring point, I will rent a car.  I have found that I can fit my bicycle in the back seat of an intermediate size car by removing the rear wheel.   f the tour ends where I began, I ask the motel owner or the camp ground if I can leave my car with them for a few weeks if 'm driving my own car.

If I am flying, I take my bike in an "airline" bicycle box.  This is a box that you can buy from most airlines at the airport (although always check ahead of time) and it usually costs about $25.  It is a one time use box.  It is much bigger than a typical bicycle box, but packing is simpler.  You take off your pedals and turn the handle bars.  Since the boxes are big when packed, I usually do this at the airport because i can't fit them in my car or even a van. To save me the time of standing in an airport line simply to purchase the box on the day of the trip, I will purchase ahead of time, and bring it with me to the airport.  Make sure you have tried to loosen the pedals before you go.  When you turn the handlebars you may need to release break or derailleur cables to turn the handle bars.  I put a pannier bag lightly stuffed with soft things like clothes n the derailleur side of the rear rack to help cushion it. I also try to put a sleeping bag in the box to reduce luggage on the plane.  Remember to take scissors and tape with you to cut the tape and secure the box.  Also, note that you can't take the scissors on the plane with you.  At the other end I re-assemble by bicycle at the airport.  I have put together bicycles at many major airports of the world:  Gatwick, DeGaulle, Hamburg, Amsterdam, SFO, Missoula, Portland, Green Bay.  Portland's airport actually has a special room with a bike rack and tools to reassemble your bike.  Make sure you know how you are leaving the airport.  Some are easy:  Portland and Washington Reagan both have a bike path right out of the airport.  Others you will need to find surface routes.  Others, like O'hare, you will need to get on the local train/subway or hire a service.

Depending, Amtrak is an option.  Always check with Amtrak ahead of time.  In some cases, you can walk your bike in the luggage car.  The Pacific Surfliner allows you bring the bike on the train, but you have to make a reservation for your bike, which is free.

As a side note, I have had lubricants and degreasers confiscated from my luggage and you can't take them on board, so I now plan to purchase at the beginning of the bike trip.  Good luck on your trip.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: PNWRider92 on February 11, 2021, 03:28:43 pm
I throw most of my gear in the box with my bike. I only carry the stuff I need from the time I leave the house until the time I get my bike. Even with all my gear in the box it stays under the maximum weight for the cost of the shipping.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: John Nettles on February 11, 2021, 05:18:03 pm
I don't have the option to drive or take a train to my start so air travel is my only option.
Forgive me my forwardness in asking but why are you not able to drive since you just bought  a bike 2 hours away.  I assume you drove but maybe you had a friend help you.  Just curious. 
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: canalligators on February 12, 2021, 11:33:09 am
I throw most of my gear in the box with my bike. I only carry the stuff I need from the time I leave the house until the time I get my bike. Even with all my gear in the box it stays under the maximum weight for the cost of the shipping.

Make sure your box is sturdy, and zip tie everything to the bike.  And BTW, technically Amtrak disallows anything in the box besides the bike.  If the box gets opened or they decide to inspect, you’ll have to do some explaining.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on February 12, 2021, 11:44:26 am
Using the Amtrak box was one of the advantages of traveling amtrak for me.  It is huge!  Just take off the pedals, turn the bars, and put the bike in.  Be sure to bring tape.  I strapped panniers together to make pairs into single pieces of luggage.  They were fine with it, but some baggage clerks may balk at that.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: Saburo on February 12, 2021, 08:34:46 pm
I don't have the option to drive or take a train to my start so air travel is my only option.
Forgive me my forwardness in asking but why are you not able to drive since you just bought  a bike 2 hours away.  I assume you drove but maybe you had a friend help you.  Just curious.

The start of my tour is in Astoria, Oregon.  I wouldn't have the time to drive from Kentucky to Oregon for my start. 

I live in Kentucky but had to travel to Ohio to buy my bike.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: jamawani on February 12, 2021, 09:10:51 pm
Saburo -

I've been bike touring for 30+ years.
My first X-USA was back in 1987 - starting in Astoria.
I flew from Raleigh into PDX then hitched to Astoria.
(I don't suggest hitch-hiking any more.)
Shipped my bike out ahead of time to a bike shop there.

As I wrote earlier, I prefer driving out with all my stuff.
Then, next, I would take Amtrak.
(Either way tends to give you time to get a mental reset.)
But if time is a factor, then you need to fly.

I've had both airlines and Amtrak "misplace" my bicycle.
With Amtrak they had it at the previous station.
But it took 24 hours for the bike to arrive on the next train.
With airlines it has taken a whole lot longer.
There's more to go wrong and less incentive to respond quickly.

So, I strongly suggest that you ship your bike - bike shop to bike shop.
The cost is comparable to airline fees and your bike will be waiting for you.
PROVIDED that you send it with sufficient time for delivery.
(Which means you won't have your touring bike for a week before the trip.)

I also strongly suggest that you allocate a buffer day at the beginning of the trip.
Things go wrong - bike, flight, weather, stomach , etc., etc., etc.
A buffer day lets you start your trip far more relaxed and optimistic.
And if you don't need it, you can "spend" it somewhere nice.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: CannonBill on February 13, 2021, 12:46:02 am
My next trip will be from my home in San Diego to Scarborough ME. My wife will ship my hardcase to my friend there. I’ll ship the bike home and then visit some family in VA. Hopefully UPS will lose it, so I can justify a new purchase. Lol
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: JBKlein on May 27, 2021, 01:13:04 am
I'm starting in Seattle on Sunday for a cross-country ride that will end in Boston.    I live in Palo Alto, CA.
In a normal year, I would just ship the bike via Amtrak Package Express.   They were charging $85 to ship the bike +$15 for the box.  You can easily pack it at any train station that handles check baggage, then pick it up at any other Amtrak station that handles checked luggage.  Their box is big enough that all you need to do is take the pedals off, turn the handle bars down, roll the bike into the box, Tape it shut, and write your name and phone # on the box.   Then pick it up a couple of days later at a station near your start point.
The bad news this year is that Amtrak's website says: "Amtrak Express shipping is suspended until further notice."
so that's out.
I considered just having a bike shop pack my bike and send as checked baggage, but I'm concerned that because I'm starting on Memorial Day weekend, I won't be able to get it assembled on the other end.  While I have assembled bikes when returning from a trip, I'm concerned about not being able to do it with the limited tool set I carry on the road...
My flight is on Alaska.  They charge only $30 for a standard (small) bike box, which will transport a disassembled bike.  For $100 you can check "oversized" which can be up to 115 linear inches.
So, this year I bought an Amtrak box, which measures 41x70x9 = 120 linear inches.  If I take off the front wheel, I can then carve about 8" off the length of the box, and therefore meet the 115 limit.  Boxcutter and tape.  Wish me luck!
I'm a hotel and credit card cyclist, so beyond the checked box, I only have 2 panniers which can be carried on.
I'm hoping that by late July, when I'm ready to return from Boston, Amtrak package express will be up and running again and I can just ride the thing into South Station, put it in the box, fly home, and pick it up a few days later at the Amtrak station that's a 20 minute commuter train ride from my house.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on May 27, 2021, 07:01:25 am
Wait, is amtrak charging $100 to check a bike using their regular big bike box?  Last time I travelled Amtrak it was $15 for the box and $10 for checking it (it counted as one of my checked bags).  The Amtrak web site seems to still list this policy.  https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring-your-bicycle-onboard.html

You could possibly put your two panniers in a light cheap bag of some sort to make them one bag.  That may work depending on the size.  To make it work sometimes they need to be unpacked and smashed flat on top of each other with the gear repacked on top of them in the bag.  I have used a bag that could be rolled up and mailed home or a thrift store bag that was cheap enough to donate or discard.

Gear in the bike box is a no no, but empty panniers on the bike would probably be okay if necessary.  The gear could be packed in a $5-7 thrift checked bag.  I have used thrift store checked bags for flying and have left them at airports often.  Just ask where to leave them.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: John Nettles on May 27, 2021, 07:27:35 am
Pete, the way I read his message is that he is shipping the bike ONLY, he is flying.  If he would be on the train also, it would probably be like what you are thinking.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: staehpj1 on May 27, 2021, 08:33:29 am
Pete, the way I read his message is that he is shipping the bike ONLY, he is flying.  If he would be on the train also, it would probably be like what you are thinking.
Maybe, but when he said "I considered just having a bike shop pack my bike and send as checked baggage", I took that to mean he was travelling amtrak.  I guess you can send stuff as checked baggage without travelling with it?  I thought the only way to do that was Amtrak express and he said that was suspend until further notice.

Any way if flying, I always just fly with the bike myself.  I always found that it worked well.  There used to be a bigger problem with $$$ bike fees, but last time I checked most airlines had gotten pretty good about fling with your bike.  Check the policies and choose airlines accordingly.  The thrift store luggage trick works well.  I always found the fun of just riding out of the airport to be a plus.

For those who pack light enough... I even managed to get everything (bike gear and all) into a softcase and still be under 50#.  I did fudge just a bit with some items in a personal item sized bag that I carried, but could have done without it.  The soft case weighs a couple pounds and rolls up pretty small for mailing ahead or home (or carrying along).
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on May 27, 2021, 09:45:57 am

I'm hoping that by late July, when I'm ready to return from Boston, Amtrak package express will be up and running again and I can just ride the thing into South Station, put it in the box, fly home, and pick it up a few days later at the Amtrak station that's a 20 minute commuter train ride from my house.
Also look into ShipBikes.com and Bikeflights.com. Both are basically discount sellers/brokers of bike shipping. The former uses FedEx. The latter, UPS. I have used Bikeflights several times. The last time I used it (2019) I discovered that it had switched from using FedEx to UPS. The rates went up and service went down. I am not the only one who thinks so. I will be looking into Shipbikes next time. If you don't mind the extra expense, you can make arrangements with a local shop at the end of your tour, pay them to box the bike, hand them the shipping documents you get from one of the above-services and go have a beer. You will have earned it.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: Westinghouse on June 12, 2021, 06:33:09 am
Why's that?

1. Woman overdoses in back of bus.
2. Aisle floor like flypaper from beverage spills.
3. Mentally ill person talking loudly to nobody and everybody.
4. Homeland Security empties bus on side of highway in the middle of the night.
5. Terrified young Chinese couple with toddler sitting on front row.
6. Filthy bus stations in major cities.
7. Baggage charges almost as bad as airlines.
8. Long delay when driver quits mid-route.
9. And more.

(Because I have toured for 33 years, I've done way too much Greyhound.)

Greyhound is a dog, a dirty sick dog. It is tolerable short distances. Cross country it is not the way to go. If you need to go very far, it is better to hitch hike to trucks with your gear than to use the dog. If Greyhound is the best the USA provides for transcontinental bus service, it speaks poorly for the country. Not advised.
Title: Re: Getting to your start with all your stuff
Post by: TCS on June 17, 2021, 10:37:06 pm
Greyhound...Cross country it is not the way to go....If Greyhound is the best the USA provides for transcontinental bus service, it speaks poorly for the country.

AFAIK, Greyhound is the only ~transcontinental~ bus service in the USA.  But seriously, if one is going all the way between the oceans, put a pencil to paper and figure how much will be spent on several days' food for bus (or rail) travel, and take another look for cheap air flights. 

BTW, air, train and intercity bus travel modes:  guess which of these got no zilch nada dedicated pandemic disruption assistance money from the American government?  Now guess which one serves the most American communities?  Aaaand finally guess which one creates the least greenhouse gas per passenger mile?  Hint:  it's the one that Adventure Cycling has no partnerships or programs with and doesn't promote.

But anyhoo Greyhound is not as good as bus service gets in the USA.  (That would be Vonlane.   ;D  )  Things are still unsettled because of the pandemic (it's not like the government helped bus companies out, remember) but as things vector to normal, here's an idea.  If your bicycle adventures are in the Seattle-San Diego-Phoenix-Salt Lake tetragon or in the Boston-Miami-San Antonio triangle, check out FlixBus.  They're a fairly recent entrant to the US intercity bus scene from Germany.  Yeah, they're experimenting with battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses to become greener in the future, but the exciting thing for cycle tourists right now is many of their buses have bike racks.  Yeah, actual bike racks.  They'll haul your bike and you don't even have to box it.  You reserve a spot for your bike when you buy your ticket.  Unlike Amtrak, you can put your bike on or get it off anywhere they stop.  If demand is there, FlixBus says in the future they could haul bikes on a rack plus up to 5 unboxed bikes in the luggage hold.

Another option.  Options are good.  Check it out.  It might work for you.